Religion

Cooking up a journey to the priesthood

The Rev. Roger Morgan, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in North Myrtle Beach, helps separate cabbage leaves in the church’s kitchen. The Ladies Guild will sell frozen cabbage rolls at the Craft Fair in November.
The Rev. Roger Morgan, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in North Myrtle Beach, helps separate cabbage leaves in the church’s kitchen. The Ladies Guild will sell frozen cabbage rolls at the Craft Fair in November. For The Sun News

The Rev. Roger Morgan isn’t easily shaken.

The congregation at Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach witnessed his composure on a recent Sunday when an elderly man interrupted Morgan’s homily.

The man approached the priest, who stepped away from the microphone and asked how he could help. The man relayed his request and was satisfied with Morgan’s answer. He then went to the back of the church with the ushers.

“That ended my homily,” Morgan said.

His demeanor remains just as calm when he talks about his unlikely journey from chef to priest.

Morgan was ordained as a Catholic priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, his home parish in Greenville, on May 29.

The 41-year-old with a towering 6-foot-5-inch frame couldn’t have predicted this path.

His family didn’t follow a prescribed faith, and he attended a religious service about 10 times during his younger years. After graduating from Wren High School in Piedmont, he entered the broadcast journalism program at the University of South Carolina.

“People told me I had a good voice for that,” he said, “but the classes I enjoyed were literature and philosophy.”

After two years, he reconsidered his choice of major and decided to pursue his interest in being a chef.

Morgan had long known his way around a kitchen. When he was growing up in Greenville, his job as a teenager was to cook dinner. His father died in a car accident when he was young and his mother worked as a nurse, so he accepted the responsibility of preparing the evening meals.

He received his associate’s degree in culinary arts in 1995 from the Art Institute of Atlanta. His career took him from Georgia to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenville to Minneapolis and Famous Dave’s of America, which allowed him to travel the Midwest organizing rib fests.

“I love all food equally, pizza, hamburgers, gourmet food,” he said. “I like making bread and I like cooking breakfasts.”

Always an avid reader, Morgan began perusing religious texts while in the Twin Cities, especially the works of Walker Percy, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton and St. Augustine. He also wanted to begin writing.

With this in mind, he moved to Houston in 1998, accepted a position in restaurant management and took classes in the creative writing program at University of Houston. Walking to his classes, he’d pass the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and was fascinated with the impressive building. He met a Catholic family and saw how they practiced their religion. One day in 2004, he walked into the cathedral’s office and said he wanted to join the church.

“I wasn’t seeking the Catholic Church,” he said. “I found the Catholic Church.”

He had dated through the years, but once he became acquainted with the Catholic Church, the priesthood stayed in the back of his mind.

“All things came together and I saw God’s providence,” he said.

In 2009, he entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Then, in 2011, he transferred to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston to complete another four years of study toward ordination.

Morgan values being able to offer Mass and minister the sacraments to people.

“I am most privileged and grace-filled,” he said. “It is a source of gratitude and happiness for me.”

About his intention to pursue creative writing?

“I would like to write a spiritual autobiography,” he said. “It could be called ‘The Poor Man’s Confessions.’”

Morgan’s life has taken a circuitous path, but he is satisfied with it.

“God’s providence is working in your life in ways you don’t understand,” he said. “I still feed people, now as a minister of the word and sacraments.”

He will explain his change of careers in “From Chef to Priest” at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church at 10 a.m. Sept. 15 and 6 p.m. on Sept 22.

Jo Ann Matthews: jamathews124@gmail.com

What | “From Chef to Priest,” presentation by the Rev. Roger Morgan, Parochial Vicar, Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church

Where | Our Lady Star of the Sea, 1100 Eighth Ave. N., North Myrtle Beach

When | 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesday and 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 22

Cost | Free

Contact | 843-249-2356, olss@sc.rr.com

  Comments